KOTA KINABALU: Barisan Nasional (BN) is confident of its chances in winning the Semporna parliamentary seat as well as the three state seats within its constituency in the next general election (GE14).
Sabah Assistant Finance Minister Ramlee Marahaban said the ruling coalition would be able to win the seats despite staunch opposition from Parti Warisan Sabah (Warisan), especially in the state’s east coast district.
“Shafie Apdal was Semporna MP for five terms and was a national Umno leader, so he is famous. However, the politics in Semporna do not revolve around him.
“We are not afraid of him because we’re ready to face him and give him a fierce fight. We know we can successfully defend all the four seats in Semporna,” Ramlee told FMT.
BN won the parliament seat of Semporna and state constituencies of Sulabayan, Senallang and Bugaya in the last general election in May 2013.
However, Semporna MP and then-federal minister Shafie Apdal left BN and formed Warisan. Sulabayan assemblyman Jaujan Sambakong also joined him in the new state opposition party.
Only Senallang and Bugaya remained within BN’s fold with their respective assemblymen, Nasir Sakaran and Ramlee.
On Umno’s candidates to challenge the Warisan duo, Ramlee said it was up to the top BN leadership.
“Usually the candidates will come from the divisional leadership, but they can also come from outside the division and even the party, but this is rare.
“Whoever they are, the candidates should have leadership ability, proven performance, openness and sensitivity. They must be honest and accepted by the rakyat,” he said, adding that there were many such candidates in the Umno division’s leadership.
Ramlee, who is also Sabah Umno deputy information chief, stayed coy when asked if he would be fielded as Umno’s candidate to wrest the Semporna parliamentary seat from Shafie.
“I can’t say I have an advantage and can be a candidate. It’s up to the BN leadership to decide on this.
“I will just do my best to fulfil the responsibility I’m entrusted with. Whoever the suitable candidates are, we’ll accept them.”